Monday, June 2, 2014

Refreshing Spanish Soup: Andalucian Gazpacho

Friends of ours recently packed up their lives in the northern corner of Spain for greener employment pastures in Ottawa. She is doing post doctoral work in stem cell research. He is looking to apply his masters degree in human resources.  
It was with mixed emotions they left their friends, families and their centuries-old apartment in Santiago de Compostela, along the famous Camino de Santiago route. I assured them Ottawa too has its own UNESCO world heritage site, the Rideau Canal. 
Still,  they miss the vibrant colours and smells of their hometown. The fresh seafood, flowers, chestnuts and wine.  

Spanish tortilla and gazpacho

They arrived during a snow storm, in below 30 degree cold. For all the reading they had done about Canada's capital, nothing could prepare them for our winter. Their fashionable leather shoes and tailored jackets were no match for our deep freeze.   
We gave them the newscomer's initiation: how to dress in layers; where to buy groceries; how to take public transit; where to buy local beer and beef.
Grateful for our tips, they gave us a very special thank you by cooking a traditional Spanish meal.

Call it a Spanadian meal. They had to substitute a few traditional Spanish ingredients, like fresh fish and seafood, with local Canadian beef and chicken.  Also on the menu, tortilla a traditional omelette with potatoes and red peppers. Between courses, we sipped a refreshing tomato soup, a staple in the Andalucia region of southern Spain.

Gazpacho is quick and easy to make. This cold soup is also very forgiving. You can easily adjust the taste and texture by adding water, olive oil or more vegetable. It's a refreshing savoury soup on a hot day

Our friends may not have had all the ingredients they're used to, but they made every dish with loadsof love and appreciation. Those are my favourite meals.

 7 tomatoes + 1 red pepper + 1 green pepper + 2 cucumbers + 1 large clove garlic + 1/2 cup olive oil  + 1 Tablespoon balsam vinegar + salt & pepper to taste
Peel and quarter the tomatoes. (Tip: Place the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes to loosen the skin.)
Chop remaining vegetables and place all in a large bowl. Using a hand blender, combine until smooth. Slowly add olive oil and balsamic while blending. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve chilled. Enjoy!
Note: My friend cooks like I do, by eye-balling and tasting. Not a lot of measuring goes on in our kitchens. These are her best estimation of quantities for four servings. 

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